People do what they do for various reasons. In the journey of life, only those that can learn to stay afloat will thrive and the principle of living is God’s Word. The question has very seldom ever been whether the Word is our instrument for it. It has always been how do I do it? It’s always been a question of process, process, process. The best of plans without a process or strategy for accomplishing it is nothing short of willful thinking, the thought of any couch potato, ever wishing and putting nothing to work.
Yet I have found over these years that there are many that have the best of strategies without execution. What therefore I am sharing with you are basic plans and strategies that if you put to work will change your life and your world without fail.
Putting it in simpler terms, you don’t just make a man fly a plane. Show him how. It’s process, process, process. It’s about taking certain steps in certain order to guarantee certain results. It’s not just any steps, not just any order and not just any results. It’s what the Bible means when it says, ‘Precept must be upon precept, line upon line’ (Isa 28:10).
The primary purpose of personal Bible study is not to numb God, eliminate guilt or fulfill all righteousness. Its purpose is to Radically Transform our lives (RTL). Once the purpose of a thing is not grasped, abuse is inevitable. But when RTL remains our driving force, everything else falls in place. The purpose of personal Bible study is what it changes you into, how it impacts your life. If it is in not changing you, it is a waste.
The question therefore is this: How will all your personal Bible study change you? Let’s keep it simple by sticking to this age-old tested and thoroughly proven process. It’s a simple three-step approach that pretty much guarantees RTL, that is Radically Transformed Lives. These steps must follow one another in the order they are given. They are:
This is the first step, that is, purely of observational nature. When you get to a Bible passage you simply ask what is it saying? What’s here? What are all the facts? Like a detective investigating a crime scene, you gather all the facts, leaving nothing out. Nothing is too trivial. All the facts must be collected. If you leave anything out here, everything else you do will fall apart. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Gather all the facts, leaving absolutely nothing out.
This is the stage when you get meanings for all the facts you collected in Step 1 above. In a quest for answers, you ask, what does this mean? Unfortunately, the travesty common today is that people read and begin saying it means so and so. How can you reach correct conclusions without getting all the facts? And the sadder aspect is that once they reached an interpretation, it all ends there. No. Life-changing personal Bible study does not begin with interpretation and interpretation is not the end of the process. There is still a third step.
Here is where you ask, how can I put this to work in my life? How does this apply to me? Hear this, the Bible is the revealed Word of God. It is therefore God’s instruction manual for living. When we return to the Bible, we return to reality. Every time we read and do what it asks us to do, we cannot but experience transformation. No food, no matter how nutritious or delicious it may be, will do you any good unless eaten. Just reading scriptures and interpreting them without applying it to our lives by doing what it says is therefore an exercise in futility. Back to the core purpose of personal Bible study. It is life changing, which automatically occurs as we gather all the facts from our study, correctly interpreting them and then putting them to work in our lives. In the words of Hendricks, “Method is methodical with a view to becoming receptive and reproductive”.
Do you want your life to make a difference? Do you want to impact your world? Do you desire to leave an imprint on the sand of time? First it has to begin by you allowing scriptures to impact your own life. Do you know the analogy of sperm and egg? Neither the male sperm nor the female egg by itself can produce a new life. Conception and reproduction are the result of the fusion of both, that is, the sperm must be embraced by the egg.
What is true of egg and sperm is true of the Life Transformation. Rom 12:2 says, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. When God’s word and a receptive and obedient heart get together, something extraordinary happens. It is referred to as a Radically Transformed Life (RLT). And what’s more, the more the lives are impacted by the Living Word of God, the better our society and world becomes.
Let’s add yet another small flare to our definition. “Method is methodical with a view to becoming receptive, and reproductive, by means of first hand acquaintance with the Word.”
By way of emphasis therefore, there is no substitute for personal prolonged exposure to the Bible. You have to read it for yourself. No substitute. The alternatives to it is you would have to depend on a third party or an intermediary to tell you what the Bible says. Imagine having to rely on a third party to tell you what your spouse is saying. Exactly how long do you imagine that such marriage will last? Remember always that Christ, the Living Word is the husband and head to His body (Eph. 5:23). A good marriage is not designed to thrive upon a third party but on a smooth interaction between the couple. Don’t be a let down to your beloved. Get the Word for yourself. You can never be over-exposed to Scripture. The more you get into Scripture, the better opportunity you must get transformed by it.
Grace be with you in 2018 and beyond!! AMEN!!!